Galatians 5:1 – “It is for FREEDOM that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of bondage.”
The world today is in extreme chaos, confusion, and uncertainty of what might happen. The truth is that during times of trouble and testing our reaction proves the condition of our hearts. With so much uncertainty you would think we would come together in understanding to try to bring some order to the situation, but the reality is that fear just produces defensiveness and division. It began in the garden with Adam and Eve. We live in a world constantly on the defensive, fearful of what others might do. Our world is full of walls and barriers. This defensive attitude can cause us to feel the need to express our offense over someone else’s position. In Matthew chapter 18, Jesus made it clear that while we are in this world opportunities for offense would come. The thing that we must learn is that offense is never a reason to respond offensively. The saying, “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words can never hurt me.” is false. Words always bring ramifications. And the consequences of our words are usually experienced in our own lives, not the persons who has offended us. The truth is that when we speak thoughtless and cruel words, those words hurt us greater than the words or the act that offended us. Our response to offense can cause deep emotional and spiritual wounds in ourselves. Jesus said that we live in a world full of offense, but He endured mocking and the cruelest of words yet without offense. How do we deal with offense and how do we protect our hearts?
Words always bring ramifications.
In our minds, we often build these interior walls to protect our hearts and souls from the emotional and spiritual wounds that others might cause. Yet the walls we build around our hearts often fail to protect us and usually entrap us in bitterness and loneliness. Our interior walls fail us because they block us from the very healing that we need, the healing that can only come from love and honor. It is because of love that I can allow others to express themselves without taking it personally. Peter tells us in 1 Peter 2:17 that we are to, “Honor everyone. Love the brotherhood (church). Fear (honor) God, honor the king” (president, pastor, those in authority). Honor simply means that I will respect your opinion and your position on a matter even if it differs from mine. When we refuse to honor others, the bitterness brews within our souls to the point that it inflicts us and our relationships. To live as an honoring person simply requires me not to return evil (offense) for someone else’s choices. Proverbs makes it clear, “Evil will never leave the house of one who pays back evil for good” (Proverbs 17:13).
Honor everyone, love the church.
It is for FREEDOM that Christ has set us free. This freedom that Christ has given us is not the freedom to express our hurts and disappointments which are really nothing more than the expression of our offenses. This FREEDOM that Christ has given us, is the freedom over the power of sin and offense. The FREEDOM and power to not be offended. But if the offense was a deliberate attack, the freedom to forgive and not remain offended. Anytime we allow ourselves to be offended without forgiving, we are again entangled in that yoke of bondage. Forgiveness breaks the woundedness of the offense to our own souls while remaining offended retains the hurt and the pain. If we refuse to forgive, that person still has a knife in our hearts, and every time we think about the offense that knife just twists and goes deeper. When we choose to forgive, Jesus will remove the anger, the pain, and the hurt, and give us His FREEDOM over offense.
My prayer for you today is that you will come to the place of FREEDOM in every area of your life.
Pointing People to Jesus,
“On Earth as it is in Heaven!”